Modernising parliamentary democracy

Many government consultations are more about meeting legal requirements than listening

Many government consultations are more about meeting legal requirements than listening

Consultations are often a legal requirement for government departments – but this sometimes means they are formulaic and ineffective. In an extract from his report, Creating a democracy for everyone: strategies for increasing listening and engagement by government, Jim Macnamara (University of Technology Sydney/ LSE) looks at some of the failings of government consultation, and […]

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Many political and constitutional steps are needed in order to for the UK to leave the European Union, after 44 years as a full member. Cumulatively they form one of the biggest constitutional changes in British history, and one dogged by intense controversy and disputes. As part of our 2017 Audit of UK Democracy, Joelle Grogan examines […]

Why is it taking so long to appoint a new Intelligence and Security Committee?

Why is it taking so long to appoint a new Intelligence and Security Committee?

For the past five months the Intelligence and Security Committee has been in abeyance. Yet its job of scrutinising the work of the security agencies is even more vital at a time when Britain is regularly attacked by terrorists. Andrew Defty (University of Lincoln) asks what is delaying the appointment of a new committee, and […]

Embattled political elites embrace democratic reform to save themselves

Embattled political elites embrace democratic reform to save themselves

When they fear they are losing people’s trust, Western European governments start to bring in democratic reforms. The same thing happens when governments change frequently. Camille Bedock (Université libre de Bruxelles) looks at the recent upheavals in France and Italy – which contrast with Denmark, where people are generally happy with political institutions – and […]

Audit 2017: How effective is the Westminster Parliament in scrutinising central government policy-making?

Audit 2017: How effective is the Westminster Parliament in scrutinising central government policy-making?

The House of Commons is one of the oldest and foremost legislatures in the world – yet in the past it was also a byword amongst political scientists for weak legislative control of government. Recently some revisionist authors have painted a more active picture of MPs’ influence. As part of our 2017 Audit of UK […]

Called up for parliamentary service: why we should replace the Lords with a House of Citizens

Called up for parliamentary service: why we should replace the Lords with a House of Citizens

The Lords is an affront to democracy and Parliament as a whole is regarded as untrustworthy. Matthew Beswick says the second chamber should be replaced by a 160-strong citizens’ assembly, whose members would be chosen to serve a two-year term by sortition – just as juries are picked now. Similar PostsGender equality in Parliament: how […]

Smile or smirk? Why non-verbal behaviour matters in parliamentary select committees

Smile or smirk? Why non-verbal behaviour matters in parliamentary select committees

When witnesses appear before select committees, Hansard records their words – but not their expressions. Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey (LSE) analysed nonverbal behaviour in 12 economic policy committee hearings, including some in which George Osborne gave evidence. In some of the hearings with Osborne, he appears to be smirking; in others, his smiles appear genuine. She argues that […]

The six faces of parliamentary power

The six faces of parliamentary power

The Westminster parliament is famous throughout the world, but often presented as relatively non-influential when it comes to making the law. Meg Russell and Daniel Gover‘s new book Legislation at Westminster is the most detailed study of the British legislative process for over 40 years, and challenges these assumptions. The authors summarise their findings on […]

Audit 2017: How democratic is the basic constitutional law of the UK?

Audit 2017: How democratic is the basic constitutional law of the UK?

The foundations of any liberal democracy lie with its constitutional arrangements, which in the UK are famously diverse and uncodified, with no single written ‘constitution’ document.  As part of our 2017 Audit of UK Democracy, Michael Gordon looks at how to assess the democratic basis of constitutional law, and how well recent experience suggests that the […]

Book review | A Woman’s Work, by Harriet Harman

Book review | A Woman’s Work, by Harriet Harman

In A Woman’s Work, Britain’s longest-serving female MP Harriet Harman offers a new memoir reflecting on her experience of high-level politics and the recent history of the Labour Party from the late 1970s to the present. Despite a small number of notable omissions, this is a valuable addition to the genre of political autobiography that puts women’s lived experience […]

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